Melissa Lesnie talks to Jane Sheldon about her experiences singing the music of a contemporary music legend.

How long have you been singing for John Zorn, and how did you first come into contact?

I first worked for him in November 2012, premiering Holy Visionsfor New York City Opera’s Vox Festival. I was introduced to Zorn by Lisa Bielawa, who in addition to her incredibly busy life as a composer is also a fab soprano. She was singing in the Vox project but had to pull out so she recommended me to the other singers in the group. Luckily for me, Zorn liked my sound and approach and I’ve been working with him since then. Lisa will be singing in Adelaide too. It’s a really lovely, tight-knit group.

How would you describe the process of working with him on Holy Visions?

For that show we didn’t work so closely. Because he’d worked with most of the other singers before, and he trusts their reading of his music, initially we gals just worked together. They were already well-equipped to answer my questions about, for example, what kind of vocal timbre he is after for certain gestures. And then I met John...